OF THE NINTH ECCI PLENUM ON
THE TRADE UNION QUESTION
25 February 1928
Resolutionen und Beschlüsse, IX Plenum, p. 13
THE INDUSTRIAL STRUGGLE AND THE TASKS OF COMMUNISTS
1. With the extremely rapid concentration of capital in the present period . . .
and the amalgamation of capitalist organizations with the machinery of the bourgeois State, strikes quickly tend to assume a political character, and the forces of the proletariat come into collision with the forces of the bourgeois State. In these circumstances it is the task of communists to enlighten the masses about the perspectives of the struggle, to mobilize the broadest strata of workers, to demand as vigorously as possible their revolutionary unification, and to bring the entire
struggle on to a higher plane.
2. Communists and revolutionary workers in general must make the basis of their tactics the resolute and relentless struggle against so-called 'industrial peace', which is nothing but the latest form of bringing the working class into subjection to
the bourgeoisie. Therefore, in addition to putting forward concrete demands about wages and hours, the watchwords around which the masses must be mobilized are the freedom to strike, opposition to compulsory arbitration, opposition to socialdemocratic loyalty to collective agreements, and, as a rule, advocacy of short-term agreement only. . . .
4. The new forms of the bourgeois offensive against the working class are accompanied by a turn to the right among social-democratic politicians and trade union leaders, who actively support the tactics of industrial peace, put a brake on
strikes, or betray them at the most critical moment. It is therefore the job of communists to pursue tactics which will enable them to seize strike leadership from the reformists. . . .
5. . . . Every strike must be made the arena of struggle for leadership between communists and reformists. The communist attitude must therefore be designed to secure leadership in strikes. It is necessary to mobilize the masses under communist slogans . . .
to expose the treacherous attitude of the reformists and, when the opportunity is favourable, organize strikes against the will of the trade union bureaucracy. . . .
6. To be a good communist does not mean to propose strikes all the time, whatever the circumstances. This is particularly true of the general-strike slogan.
The communist . . .
should not limp behind the masses, nor should he run too far
ahead: he should not play with strikes, but once a strike has been started, he must exploit every opportunity and prospect of struggle. . . .
7. To lead the masses in a strike, energetic work in advance of the strike is essential. . .
Communists can win the leadership of a strike movement more easily if, before the strike, they launch a broad movement for the establishment of factory committees or win strong positions in them where they already exist. These factory
committees are the best foundation for forming strike centres, elected and recognized by the broad working masses.
THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE EXPULSION OF COMMUNISTS FROM
Because of the radicalization of the labour movement, the Amster-damers are opening a bitter campaign all along the line against communists in the trade unions.
Expulsion from the unions, splitting the union organizations in which communists win predominant influence have become everyday events. . . .
Among communists there has been a certain passivity on this question.
(a) Wage an open and vigorous struggle against expulsion under the slogan of trade union unity;
(b) Conduct this struggle primarily among the masses, by organizing protest meetings in favour of democracy within the unions. . . .
(d) The attempt to stay in the union must never lead a communist to renounce active revolutionary political work in the union.
ORGANIZATIONAL TASKS OF COMMUNISTS IN TRADE UNIONS
The ninth ECCI plenum considers it one of the most urgent tasks of the international revolutionary trade union movement to adopt an attitude based on clearly defined principles to the defects in the work of communist parties and revolutionary unions to win the masses for the revolutionary class struggle.
Particular attention will have to be paid to the organizational tasks of the trade union movement in colonial countries. . . . Everywhere the political influence of communists in the trade unions is growing; but the organizational work of the communist parties is not keeping pace with this growth. . . .
Although organizational work must vary according to country and industry, there are nevertheless basic principles of organizational work applicable to all countries.
Communists in trade unions in all countries must make it their task:
i. To capture the most important industries, industrial districts, large factories and plants.
ii. To get the greatest possible number of workers in every factory to do trade union work.
iii. To build up trade union bodies on a factory basis; to do this the local trade union branch machinery must be captured.
iv. To win the factory committees, where they exist, and to create them where they do not exist, and to make these committees the basic organizations of industrial unions.
v. To deal with all important trade union questions in the factory itself.
vi. Communists must take particular care that these committees . . .
are not turned into instruments of capital-labour co-operation.
vii. To fight against bureaucratic centralism, to fight for broad trade union democracy, i.e. the greatest possible extension of local powers, proportional representation in trade union executives, annual elections, etc. . . .
xii. To strengthen the organization of the unemployed; to fight against the exclusion of unemployed from the unions. . . .
As regards revolutionary unions in countries where the unions are split... communists must:
i. Recruit new members. . . .
iii. Change the unions into industrial unions, without forcing mechanical fusion.
iv. Establish close links between the factory committees in all factories run by the same company or trust. . . .
v. Create every possible joint committee, action committee, and other united front bodies both with workers in reformist unions and with the unorganized. . . .
For those countries in which there is an organized trade union minority the most important organizational tasks are:
i. To win over as many trade unions and trades councils as possible to the opposition. . . .
iii. To carry out a constant campaign explaining recent defeats in the industrial struggle, pointing to the need to replace the leaders.
iv. To struggle unrelentingly against the slightest violation of trade union democracy, against expulsions, etc.
For those countries in which there is no organized opposition and in which work is carried out by fractions, communist efforts must be directed to
i. establishing fractions on the district, industry, and national level. . . .
iii. Fighting against bureaucratic centralism in the trade union movement and for the extension of the rights of local organizations.